Amaryllis Belladonna - A Mesmerizing Romantic

The name of amaryllis, which gave its name to the whole family of magnificent bulbous plants, is so often used as a synonym for hippeastrum, that the real, genuine amaryllis has been forgotten. This plant is inferior to its much more popular counterpart and in the variety and species diversity, and in demand. But everyone who has ever watched the touching flowering of genuine amaryllis, has forever given them a piece of his heart. Less capricious, hardy, and producing more flowers, amaryllis deserve a return to the list of fashionable crops.

Amaryllis belladonna - a mesmerizing romantic
Amaryllis belladonna, or Amaryllis beautiful (Amaryllis belladonna)

Content:

  • Amaryllis belladonna and their romantic blooms
  • Amaryllis belladonna variety
  • Home care of Amaryllis belladonna
  • Diseases and pests of amaryllis belladonna
  • Propagation of amaryllis

Real amaryllis and their romantic blooms

Real amaryllis, like their most popular and spectacular (and in fact the only actively used) representative amaryllis belladonna, have practically disappeared from our interiors. Much more common plants of Amaryllis family, which is correct to call not at all amaryllis, but exactly hippeastrum, in spite of any "habits", have occupied practically the whole niche in the category of indoor bulbous plants and ousted once popular genuine amaryllis from the list of demanded plants.

And yet, they have clearly distinctive individual features and differ from amaryllis quite significantly (and by quite obvious signs). They are, after all, different crops both in flowering and in its timing, and in character, and in cultivation strategy.

The true amaryllis, like most of the spectacular indoor bulbs, came to us from South Africa and are naturally accustomed to subtropical conditions.

Amaryllis belladonna, or Amaryllis beautiful (Amaryllis belladonna) have many similarities to their fellow hippeastrums, yet their key flowering characteristics are radically different. Amaryllis develop from slightly elongated, rounded, spindle-chest-shaped, with a prominent "neck", rather large bulbs, the diameter of which can reach 5-6 cm.

Amaryllis have rather large roots, which do not die off during the resting period. Amaryllis bulbs produce leaves that reach 40 to 60 cm in length and only 2-3 cm in width and are linear with a central "fold". The leaves are released only after the luxurious flowering in autumn (and not simultaneously with the flower stalks, as with hippeastrums). The leaves die off towards the end of spring, before the dormancy stage begins. Each bulb produces up to 16 leaves, arranged opposite each other, in rather strict pairs.

In contrast to hippeastrums, amaryllises do not produce hollow, but powerful dense flower stalks from half a meter to almost 1 meter in height. The development of the peduncle is very rapid, occurring literally in a matter of days. Amaryllis wakes up with amazing speed. From the first signs of the beginning of the flower stalk to the beginning of flowering proper, usually a very short period (up to 1 week) passes.

The flower stalk is crowned by a multi-flowered umbrella of inflorescence rather than a few flowers. It contains up to 12 funnel-shaped flowers with a corolla divided into six petals, the maximum diameter of which is limited to 6-10 cm. The flowers are smaller and more delicate than those of the hippeastrum, but they bloom in far greater numbers.

The flowering period of the amaryllis belladonna differs radically from that of the hippeastrum. While the latter are considered winter-flowering plants, usually reaching their decorative peak by the end of February, amaryllis are pre-fall crops. Amaryllis belladonna blooms traditionally in late summer, most often enjoying blossoms for quite a long time. Due to the fact that each flower opens for 4-5 days and literally one after another, a kind of wave passes through the inflorescence.

After flowering, amaryllis fastens fruit bolls, in which traditionally 6 or more seeds are hidden. They have time to ripen in a month.

The color gamut of amaryllis, unlike hippeastrums, whose selection has expanded the possible color variants almost to the limitless, is romantic and rather modest. White-pink variations from the most delicate and watercolor shades to rich candy colors and dark wine-red tones - with amaryllis belladonna you can admire all this richness of color, which is traditionally considered strictly feminine and very pastoral.

The scent of amaryllis is quite intense, most similar to an exquisite version of the scent of hyacinths.

Amaryllis belladonna - a mesmerizing romantic
Amaryllis belladonna, or Amaryllis belladonna. © Elias Chasiotis

Amaryllis belladonna

The selection of varieties in amaryllis is far less impressive than in hippeastrums. Almost all varieties are legendary, and the ones you can count on the fingers of one hand. The best white-flowered varieties even today are the old "Alba" and "Blanda", the pink-flowered "Maxima" and "Elata", the large-flowered and small-flowered "Major" and "Minor", respectively. Yes, and purple "Purpurea" can also be considered a model variety.

Care for amaryllis belladonna at home

Amaryllis, unlike hippeastrum, can be grown not only as indoor plants, but also as garden plants with carrying in containers for the winter. But still the most abundant flowering can be achieved from them exactly in the room culture, so this plant will give the least trouble.

Amaryllis, except for the need to provide them with a cool resting period, are undemanding crops. They can be cared for no differently from most beautifully flowering indoor plants and flowering bulbs. Amaryllis need neither a higher humidity nor any special temperature regime. Both experienced and novice growers can raise this plant.

Dormancy for Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis blooms are worth all the effort it takes to ensure the correct regime during the resting phase. Fortunately, it is relatively short with this plant: it is sufficient to let the amaryllis rest for at least 6 weeks (optimally 7-8 weeks) in order to induce the next bloom.

Traditionally Amaryllis resting period falls in summer, it begins from the moment of leaves shedding in late spring, and ends with the beginning of flower stalk formation in late summer.

During the resting stage the plant should be given 3 main factors of normal "rest":

  • shading;
  • sharp decrease of watering;
  • complete stopping of fertilizers.

Cool temperatures are sometimes called an optional condition, but without them it will be very difficult to achieve abundant flowering even with perfect care.

Amaryllis flowering times can be freely regulated by shifting the dormancy period and shifting it to other dates to banish the plant to certain dates or seasons.

Amaryllis belladonna - a mesmerizing romantic
Amaryllis belladonna, or Amaryllis belladonna

Lighting for Amaryllis belladonna

The amaryllis has strict lighting requirements only during the active development phase. At the time when the plant produces flower stalks and leaves, and until they fade, the amaryllis should be given as bright lighting as possible of all options.

Direct sunlight has a negative effect on flowers only at noon (if the plant is exposed to evening or morning sun, it will not harm it). In any case, the place for amaryllis choose as light as possible. Shading during this period may result in no flowering or bud drop.

As for the resting light regime, it is one of the key factors in preparing for future flowering and one of the three most important indicators that ensure the correct passage through the resting phase for Amaryllis that are shedding their leaves. Amaryllis should be moved to a shaded area (preferably in full shade or at least intensive penumbra), in sharp contrast to its previous location, once it has shed its leaves.

Comfortable temperature regime

Amaryllis is a heat loving plant but not too picky about temperatures during its flowering stage, while it is actively developing. Amaryllis will do well in any living room and will bloom abundantly in more subdued and medium-high air temperatures.

But during the resting stage, for more abundant flowering in the future, the bulb should preferably be kept in cooler temperatures. The optimal temperature range during the resting period is from 5 to 12 degrees, but it is better to maintain a temperature of about 10 degrees for at least 6 weeks.

Amaryllis belladonna - a mesmerizing romantic
Belladonna amaryllis bulbs

Watering and humidity

Despite its belonging to the bulbs and a fear of stagnant damp soil, amaryllis for abundant flowering need a fairly high substrate moisture. For this culture it is necessary to water abundantly, but not too often, allowing only the top layer of soil to dry up.

Naturally, the active regime of moistening the soil is necessary for this plant only in the stage of active development. With the transition of the plant to the resting stage, after the death of the leaves, watering is gradually reduced and made minimal, maintaining only light moisture of the soil, taking into account the preservation of the roots (complete drought is contraindicated). In this respect, the care of amaryllis is not much different from the care of hippeastrums.

Amaryllis does not need increased humidity, even during the period of abundant flowering. The leaves should be regularly wiped of dust.

Fertilizers for amaryllis belladonna

To find the right fertilizing strategy for amaryllis is not so easy. It's all about the fact that data on this crop's fertilizer preferences vary considerably and often don't match up. In many respects what kind of fertilizers amaryllis needs depends on the usual care provided to it in the flower center or in breeding.

The old varieties of amaryllis are sometimes counted among the rare room cultures that are not too fond of mineral fertilizers and recommend selecting for them organic fertilizers in liquid form. But most modern varieties (and by definition any amaryllis you can buy today), prefer just mineral or complex mineral-organic fertilizers.

For this plant it is better to buy special fertilizer mixtures for bulbs or amaryllis or use the usual complex fertilizer for flowering plants. When buying amaryllis, it is better to clarify the information about what kind of fertilizer composition the particular culture is used to.

And here the period of fertilization and frequency of procedures are the same for all amaryllis. Fertilizers are applied once every 2 weeks and are done only during the active development stage.

Amaryllis belladonna - a mesmerizing romantic
Amaryllis belladonna, or Amaryllis belladonna. © David Trevan

Potting and Substrate

This magnificent bulb is traditionally transplanted in its dormant state, after all the above-ground parts have died off. Amaryllis can also be transplanted at the beginning of this stage and before watering.

All amaryllis are suitable for universal soil mixes, purchased ready-made substrates with neutral characteristics or self-made soil mixes of leaf, sod soil, sand and humus. Amaryllis can even be planted in ordinary garden or vegetable soil, adding loosening agents or at least sand, but it is better to pay more attention to soil selection. Soil for growing amaryllis should be not only nutritious, but also water- and air-permeable.

The optimal frequency of transplanting for these plants is once every 4-5 years, but you can transplant plants even more often, if the babies have filled the soil and the bulbs do not have enough space. In years when transplanting is not carried out, for amaryllis replace the top layer of substrate in containers. At the same time, it is necessary to be extremely careful to ensure that the depth of immersion of the bulbs remains the same.

When transplanting, at least medium drainage must be laid at the bottom of the container (the minimum height of the drainage layer is about 3 cm). The main thing - during the transplanting procedure, try to cause minimal damage to the rather thick roots at the bulb, which do not die off even during the dormant period and are very sensitive to damage. Therefore, amaryllis, if there is no need to separate, it is better not to transplant, but to transplant.

If you want to separate the daughter plants, carefully inspect the bulb, make sure that it is not damaged by decay. The damaged areas are carefully removed with a sharp knife, immediately treating the cuts with ground charcoal. The roots should be handled very carefully during planting, but damaged, dry, long or rotted roots should be removed immediately.

Amaryllis bulbs should be planted 1/3 or only half deep. The plants are planted so that a distance of 3-5 cm is left to the walls of the container. Amaryllis can be placed in large containers in groups, leaving a distance of about 10 cm between the bulbs and 2-3 cm to the walls of the container. But a much simpler way to get many flower stalks in one container is not to separate families of bulbs when transplanting, not to separate the daughter plants as independent, but to transplant the mother bulbs together with the children formed - "family".

Diseases and pests of amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis suffer from rot if care and improper watering are violated. But much more dangerous for these bulbs are pests: spider mites, thrips and aphids. It is necessary to start fighting them immediately with insecticidal preparations.

Amaryllis belladonna - a mesmerizing romantic
Amaryllis belladonna, or Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis multiplication

Amaryllis allows you to easily get new plants and increase the collection due to the formation of daughter bulbs, which during transplanting can be separated from the mother plant and used as independent cultures.

In 1 season, each adult bulb that has reached optimum size can produce 2 to 4 offspring. Separating the daughter plants one at a time is not necessary, you can simply divide the families into 2-3 parts. But if you have a desire, you can propagate this plant from seeds, although you will have to wait long enough to flower, from 4 to 8 years. Seeds are sown with a light cover with soil, germinate under film or glass.

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